2008 Selections With Grades By Matthew Bitonti
Round 1 Pick 6: DE Vernon Gholston, Ohio State: At the time of the pick, Gholston was the only true blue chipper left, as evidenced by both New England and Baltimore trading down shortly after 6. Gholston believes he should have gone higher and might come in with a chip on his shoulder. Probably will burn hot and fade over time, and for fans to expect sacks this year is not an unrealistic expectation.
Is Vernon Gholston the greatest football player in the draft? Probably not. Is he a sure-fire, risk free prospect? No. What he brings is truly rare athleticism and upside that scares opposing coaching staffs. He’s basically the 3-4 OLB version of Mario Williams. Bill Parcells has to have seen the film of Vernon Gholston versus Jake Long, and that matchup will likely happen week 1 2008 at Miami. More good news, the Patriots didn’t get this guy and line him up against DBrickashaw Ferguson. Grade: B+.
1.30 TE Dustin Keller, Purdue: Many will ask why the Jets didn’t take a wide receiver with their choice of many prospects at that point in round 2. I would counter that they did take a receiver. He’s 240 pounds and plays tight end, meet Dustin Keller. This player was a go-to target at Purdue and highly productive in clutch situations. We can claim this was a knee jerk reaction to the acrimonious Chris Baker situation but really the Jets lack a tall red-zone target. Keller has soft hands and is a natural pass catcher. Kellen Clemens throws a nice seam route, should he win the job, Keller could be a security blanket, but with yard after catch ability. Grade: B.
4.113 CB Dwight Lowery, Akron: Nobody will confuse Dwight Lowery with Carl Lewis on the track, but his production on the field speaks volumes. He’s an instinctual player with sure hands. He has been a ballhawk at Akron with 9 Int’s in 2006. The Jets don’t need a number one cornerback but there is eventually going to be a spot open for number two. In the near term Lowery will be asked to prove himself on specials and in extra defensive back situations. Grade C+.
5.162 QB Erik Ainge, Tennessee: Nephew of NBA star Danny has intriguing intangibles but from all accounts he does not a great arm. Many say his upside is a backup, perhaps #3QB. Coincidentally the Jets have an opening on the roster for #3QB, and Ainge appears to be the leading candidate for the job. It should be noted that Draft Daddy’s final top 100 included this player, we believe he is underrated by the league and could be a surprising pickup. As a wise man said two hours ago, Tom Brady was a throw away pick too. Grade C.
6.171 WR Marcus Henry, Kansas: The Jets need size at wide receiver, someone who can climb the ladder and snag jump balls. For that reason alone Henry has a real chance to make the roster or at least practice squad. Henry projects as a possession receiver but needs alot of polish and work before he gets real snaps. Grade C-.
7.211 OT Nate Garner, Arkansas: Garner is a smart and high character run blocker from a program that does an excellent job producing linemen for the league. Despite the large free agent signings at guard and right tackle, these are areas without much depth. Former Houston Texans GM Charlie Casserly published the statistic that less than 6% of seventh round draft picks over a ten year period made a roster. That’s two or three players in each seventh round, even the undrafted seem to have a better success rate. However for all the reasons listed above, especially the lack of any real competition from existing bench players, Garner could make this team. Grade C-.
OVERALL DRAFT GRADE: B. Tangini didn’t fix all of the team’s problems but got at least two premium athletes in day one and a smattering of interesting day two players that actually have a chance. They didn’t screw it up and pick someone no one had ever heard of at 6 overall, and for that small piece of luck, call it a good omen perhaps, we can all be hopeful for the coming year.